Don’t sweat the rate stuff

Bridging Connections is a series of exclusive articles written for UTB by experiences professionals within the Bridging industry. Thomas Wall has worked in specialist finance for around 10 years and created Beat Finance to support a variety of introducers and direct customers located all over the UK. In this issue, having just celebrated 5 years in business, Thomas shares the secrets of their success.

Thomas Wall is the Managing Director and Founder of Beat Finance. Based in Cheshire, Beat Finance works with customers and introducers across the country providing a range of specialist finance solutions including bridging loans, development finance, specialist first and second charge mortgages and commercial and Buy to Let mortgages.

Don’t sweat the rate stuff

Ask people to sum up what being a property finance broker was like in 2023 and you’ll hear words like ‘hectic’, ‘changeable’, ‘unpredictable’ and perhaps even ‘exhausting’. I wouldn’t disagree with any of those, but I would also add ‘record breaking’. It was for us anyway.

There’s no doubt there was a lot to keep track of last year but when the market is so fast moving, brokers can add a huge amount of value with their market knowledge. It doesn’t matter if there are 100 different lenders and rates to keep track of if there are only half a dozen you know can deliver the deal you need, when you need it. Last year success was all about deliverability and, to be honest, I think it always is.

That’s not to say rate isn’t an important factor. We all want to get our customers a great deal and we have all had clients who will insist on chasing the lowest rate even if it leads to a dead end. Generally, they’ll only do that once when they learn the hard way that securing the deal and then completing the deal on time is worth more than a few bps off the monthly interest rate which was very unlikely to ever get that far anyway. It is frustrating to quote against a cheaper deal when you know full well it will never happen. We’ve all been there.

The right lender with the right skills and the right team is worth paying a bit extra for if it means the difference between success or failure, for the customer and for us. Delivering a positive outcome for a client is at the heart of what we do.

The same, in my view, goes for solicitors. If they’re not switched on and able to complete the slick turnarounds required to deliver a fast bridging loan for example, we and the lender have our hands tied. When a client suggests they would like to use the same solicitor their family have used for conveyancing, wills and whatever else, I always ask the same question – do they do a lot of bridging? The same goes for online lawyers that advertise low cost completions. Again, on the face of it, the customer may be able to save a few pounds on the bill, but if they’re not up to the job, they may lose the deal and have to pay the lawyer fees anyway. Over the past few years, I have established some great relationships with first class solicitors who I know are capable of what we need them to do. It doesn’t matter these days that they’re not local. They understand that often it’s the ability to get in and out of a project quickly that makes the difference between a good outcome and a great outcome, and they’ll work with us to deliver what the customer needs.

Like many brokers who thrive on repeat business, we’re happy to go the extra mile to get a deal over the line. I have occasionally found myself delivering documents to solicitors by hand (the only time I think a local solicitor could be an advantage!) because I know my customers and introducers have entrusted me to get a job done. I also maintain that my work doesn’t finish on a bridge until the exit.

arrange both regulated and unregulated bridging deals and I have noticed that both are taking a bit longer to exit than they did say two years ago. There’s less heat in the property market now (I think it’s recovering though thankfully and not as doomed as you may read elsewhere) so properties are taking longer to sell and complete. It’s important to manage client expectations and be ready with options if things don’t follow the schedule. I catch up with post completion customers at least monthly now. It used to be bi-monthly, but I think the added uncertainty warrants staying close, for their reassurance but also to address any issues early rather than at the last minute. Lots of lenders have been very good when approached for term extensions. As long as they can see the exit is still realistic, they’re on your side.

In summary then, it’s been a great 5 years and Beat is thriving. I believe the key to our success is, you guessed it, deliverability. When choosing a lender, a lawyer or in fact any party critical to getting a deal done, I work with those who inspire confidence, not uncertainty. I also expect my customers to approach me the same way. If I’m not delivering the service I promise, I know there are plenty of other brokers out there who will.